How to choose a gerbil cage
Other than the actual gerbil itself, the cage will be the most important decision that you will make regarding your gerbil. This will be their home for most, if not all, of their lives. They will eat, sleep, play and decorate in it. After a short time, you will see just how important your decision is. Making a wrong decision on a cage for your gerbil can adversely affect their life. If the cage is too small, they will not have enough room to really stretch out and have fun in it. As far a the size goes, I do not think that there is a such thing as a cage that is too big, especially if you have a group. There will be more room to play and dig in.
There is a certain size of cage that is the minimum size for a gerbil to live in, and as the number of gerbils you have goes up, so does the size of their cage. For one or two gerbils, a ten gallon aquarium is a good size and for three gerbils a fifteen gallon aquarium works well. For four gerbils, the cage should be about the size of a twenty gallon aquarium. I have used aquariums as my example because they are the most ideal type of cage for a gerbil. They are glass all the way around with a solid bottom and they are the easiest to clean from all of the different types of cages that I have seen.
As far as the different types of cages go, some can be used a a play yard for gerbils, but not a permanent residence and some should not be used at all. Some of the popular cages that are called habitats and are plastic enclosed cages are ideal for an exercise play area, but not for extended periods of time. I used one of these for my gerbils to play in while I cleaned their cage. It kept them busy while I cleaned their cage and they were not in it long enough to destroy it or injure themselves. Gerbils like to chew and they will chew plastic up quickly. Plastic can be harmful to them because it can cut the inside of their mouths and if they swallow it, it can cut up their digestive tract, which could be deadly. A plastic cage can also be harmful because as they chew holes in the sides, they can get their legs or tail caught in the holes and cut them on the jagged edges created by the chewing.
Another type of cage that is sold in pet stores for gerbils is a wire cage. These cages are not safe for gerbils and I suggest steering clear of them all together. Since they can get their teeth around the wires, they will naturally try to chew on them and jerk them harshly to try to break them off of the cage. This can not only damage the cage, causing a hazardous situation for your gerbil, but it can break their teeth or rip them out, which is not healthy for them. They can also get their legs and tail caught in the openings in the bottom resulting in a broken leg or tail or they could be ripped off if the gerbil panics and tries to get their leg or tail out of it.
There are many types of cages available for gerbils and choosing the one that fits your gerbil should be something that is not taken lightly. Choosing the wrong cage can result in a less happy life for you and your gerbil. Aquariums are the best choice for your gerbil because they are the safest and they are the best choice for you because they provide a clean environment that needs cleaning less often and they are easier to clean when you do need to clean them. Buying a book on gerbil care prior to buying a gerbil will give you the best chance of making an informed and educated decision regarding your gerbil’s home.